“Humbly asked [God] to remove our shortcomings.” Step 7 of The Twelve Steps
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them,, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6: 7-8).
(This post is the 8th in a series based on a book by Richard Rohr, Breathing under Water, which focuses on the relationship between spiritual formation and The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Look for past posts in the Category “Breathing Under Water” on the right sidebar of this blog.)
So, what do we do after we have made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our- selves and then confessed the results of that inventory, the dark places we have worked so hard to keep covered, to ourselves, to God, and to another person?
This step tells us to ask God to remove all those dark places from our lives. However, Fr. Richard quotes Matt. 6: 7-8 (see verse above) and asks the logical question: If God already knows what we need before we ask, then why bother asking? Here are some answers:
- Because Jesus told us to.
- Because to ask recognizes our dependency on God. As Fr. Richard says, “Jesus told us all to stay in the position of a beggar, a petitioner, a radical dependent, which is always spiritually true, if we are honest.” To know that we are always in need, that we are “aliens and strangers on this earth” (Hebrews 11:14) keeps us grounded in who is the Creator and who is the creature.
- Because only God can show us the true nature of our shortcomings. Rohr says, “Don’t dare go after your faults yourselves or you will go after the wrong thing or more commonly a clever substitute for the right thing. Because we have to let God reveal the faults and then allow him to remove the faults in his way.”
- Because authentic prayer helps us create and maintain a living relationship with God.
- Because to not ask is to take our own efforts too seriously.
- Because asking for the removal of our character issues and seeing the Holy Spirit do the work of transformation creates a spirit of gratitude, joy and abundance as well as a freedom to share that blessing with others.
Fr. Richard concludes this discussion on Step 7 with these words of wisdom:
So it is important that you ask, see, and knock to keep yourself in right relationship with Life itself. Life is a gift, totally given to you without cost, every day of it, and every part of it. A daily and chosen “attitude of gratitude” will keep your hands open to expect that life, allow that life, and receive life at ever-deeper levels of satisfaction, but never to think you deserve it (p. 65).